We managed to squeeze in one more trip to the countryside before leaving Mongolia and spent one night in Hustai National Park with our Swiss friends Julie and Jérome.
The car we were in couldn’t take us all the way to the place we were sleeping (20 km from the main camp) because the road was too bad, so we walked with our gear up and down a good few hills for about an hour and a half to get to our ger. We’re certainly getting lots of exercise on this trip which is great. We saw lots of beautiful wild flowers along the way, more than in other places we’d been – maybe because there was less grazing of farm animals in the park.
In the evening we went for another walk, hoping to see Przewalski horses. They were extinct in the wild but are being reintroduced in the park. We didn’t see any, but did get to a place where we had a fantastic view over the valleys below. From there we could see some red deer feeding, until they ran away into the forest (we think maybe they were frightened by a wolf). We also had a beautiful sunset, saw more wild flowers and a gorgeous moon lit our way back to our ger.
Back in Ulaan Baatar, we finally managed to visit the history museum. I particularly liked the traditional costumes, covered in embroidery. I think that some of Queen Amidala’s clothes in one of the star wars films (can’t remember which one) are very similar to traditional Mongolian costumes – especially the headdresses she wears. I guess George Lucas liked them too.
I’m excited because I have a new book to read. I found it a few hours ago. On the inside front cover there’s a withdraw envelope for the New York Public Library – from the Great Kills Branch on Staten Island to be more precise. I found it in a secondhand bookshop. I’d love to know its story – how it got to Ulaan Baatar, who brought it here, how many times it changed hands on the way and what route did it take. But of course I’ll never know. I’ll have to settle for reading it instead – which I’m already doing and I’m liking it so far.
The book is Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut. I first heard about the book after reading the author’s obituary – he died a year or so ago. So it goes. I’d forgotten all about it until my friend George gave it the thumbs up – thanks George. I added it to my mental list of books to look out for and now here it is – in Ulaan Baatar, all the way from New York via who knows where.
It’s always the little things I guess…
I’m feeling pretty good – not just because I’ve found a good book to read, and not just because I had a green salad today (I’ve had a hankering for some greens for what seems like forever). I reckon the exercise that I’ve had recently has definitely helped as has the getting out into the countryside and away from the cities. And of course the absolute avoidance of all things mutton has definitely helped.
The walk we went on two nights ago was absolutely beautiful. We left at seven in the evening and walked up and down some pretty steep grassy hills for almost two hours. The sun was setting behind us and the moon was rising in front of us. All of the shadows were good and long and everything that wasn’t in shadow shone with the most amazingly unreal colours – we tried to get them on camera but I’m not sure it’s really possible, at least not with my camera. As Susan said, we got to watch some wild deer for a while before they ran off. By the time we started to head home, Venus was out and as we approached our camp our moon shadows were beside us. It was a really amazing evening – I hope I never forget it.
It was really good to hang out with Julie and Jerome some more too. We first met on our trek in the Bulgan Province and we should hopefully be able to meet up again in Beijing. They’ve been really good company – it’s great when you just click with people.